Planning to Die: A 5-part guide to understanding the values of wills / Part 5 Conclusion: Conversations & Resources

 In Advice, End-of-Life Planning

Guest Blog: Katie Ortman, blogger

A couple years after my mom died, I had a very vivid dream where she descended from the sky in a hot air balloon. I ran to the basket and she said, “Katie, know that when you see a hot air balloon, I am with you.”

I never told anyone about that dream, until there were hot air balloons lining the sky on my sister’s wedding day. Then, after my metastatic diagnosis, my siblings and I started seeing them everywhere.

Last June 5th marked 20 years since my mom died. A friend text me that day and said, “You probably already knew this, but did you know today is National Hot Air Balloon Day?”

I did NOT know that! It was instituted a couple years ago. When people ask me if I’m afraid to die, I look at my new hot air balloon tattoo on my wrist and tell them no. Am I ready? Absolutely not. I still have a lot to say.

But I think of all the people waiting for me on the other side, especially my mom. I think of what we’ll get up to sending messages to our loved ones still on earth. And I take comfort in believing that we’ll all be reunited again.

I hope by now you feel more informed and you ALL have your affairs in order! I’ve already mentioned this, but since it’s CRITICAL to the process, I’m stating it again. There’s no value in establishing anything if your doctor and/or lawyer are the only ones privy to your wishes. Talk with your loved ones.

Michelle Knox explains in her TED Talk, “If you plan for your death, then your survivors will know how to experience a healthy bereavement without fear or guilt of having failed to honor your legacy.”

Grab a bottle of wine and discuss the one guarantee we all know for certain with your loved ones. None of us are getting out alive! How do we prepare and make it easier on all of us? Establish your wishes and have a conversation.

And, due to my innate obsession with connecting people, if you are looking for a lawyer in CO, NE, MN or England, I’ve included contact information for amazing lawyers in the Resources section below. Nothing would make me happier than sending some business to these amazing lawyer friends. Please tell them I sent you.

To recap

  • Everyone, regardless of age, assets, and health status benefits from having a Will in place.
  • You do not have to pay an attorney to have an Advance Directive (or other estate planning documents). Search your state’s requirements and find an online form or create your own.
  • Share your Advance Directive with your healthcare providers.
  • Make certain you are discussing your end of life wishes with multiple loved ones, especially those you appoint as your Medical Powers of Attorney.
  • Remember, you can go back and make changes at any time.


  • Colorado: Julia Kneeland Lazure, Esq., KNEELAND LAW, LLC., Denver, CO, Phone: (720) 524-4918, Email: julia.lazure [at], www.kneelandlaw.comFacebook
  • Nebraska: Joan Watke Stacy, PC, LLO, Sena, Polk & Stacy LLP, Omaha, NE, Phone: (402) 884-7444, Email: jws [at], www.spsattorneys.comFacebook
  • Minnesota: Joe Henderson, J. F. Henderson Law, PLLC, Minneapolis, MN, Phone: (651) 699-2600, Email: jfh [at], www.jfhendersonlaw.comFacebook
  • England: Joanne Axisa, SP Law inc. Martin Adams & McColl, Northampton, UK, Phone: +44 (0)1604 638905, Email: joanne.axisa [at],
  • The Conversation Project: dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care
  • Five Wishes: a helpful guide and documentation of your wishes (can be used in any part of the world)
  • Talk about death while you’re still healthy: a TED Talk by Michelle Knox. This is a great starting point for understanding the conversation of death. Michelle talks about the correlation of talking about death to becoming more comfortable with grief.
  • Estate Map: Estate Map helps you create a comprehensive map of your assets, advisors, information, plans, and wishes. It gives your loved ones access to your most important information when you’re not around to tell them where to look. It’s the best gift you can leave your loved ones.
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